SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) president-designate Iftikhar Ali Malik Monday welcoming the signing of the historic US-Taliban peace agreement termed it not only an important step in achieving a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan but will also contribute to achieving stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia. Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.
SAARC was founded in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. Its Secretariat was established in Kathmandu on 16 January 1987 and was inaugurated by the late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah of Nepal.
The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.
Enmity between India and Pakistan is one of the main reasons why SAARC is not prospering. On his part, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his message on the 35th SAARC Charter Day expressed the hope that the hiatus created in SAARC’s continuous progression would be removed.
In his statement President CCI issued here today, he asserted that Pakistan has been playing role for peace in the region and across the world and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s narrative of peaceful solution to Afghan conflict has won laurels.
He also called for the promotion of strong cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also urged the top leadership of either countries to remove non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and other obstacles to trade.
If proposed energy connectivity projects, such as the CASA-1000 transmission line and the TAPI gas pipeline, are executed, they will usher an era of development, progress and economic benefits to both countries
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that Pakistan’s private sector always attached great importance to trade with Afghanistan and remained willing to promote trade relations through lawful channels.
“If proposed energy connectivity projects, such as the CASA-1000 transmission line and the TAPI gas pipeline, are executed, they will usher an era of development, progress and economic benefits to both countries,” he added.
He said Afghanistan and Pakistan had a long tradition of interactions, as they were good trading partners. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as part of the wider Belt and Road Initiative, would be extended to Central Asia via Afghanistan, he said.“If we look at the CPEC, it has four main components: Transit and trade, infrastructure, energy cooperation and economic integration. Afghanistan can be helpful from all these components.”